|First appearance||Fantastic Four #13 (April 1963)|
|Created by||Stan Lee |
|Inherent abilities||Superhuman strength, intellect, stamina, durability and longevity|
Energy and molecular manipulation
The Watchers are a race of fictional extraterrestrials appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. They are commonly depicted as all-powerful beings who watch over the fictional multiverses the stories take place in, and are not allowed to interact with other characters, though they have done so on several occasions, when the situation demanded it. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the first Watcher to appear in the comics—named Uatu—debuted in Fantastic Four #13 (April 1963).
The Watchers, primarily Uatu, have been featured in several forms of media outside of comics. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they first appeared in the film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017); Uatu (voiced by Jeffrey Wright) has a main role in the Disney+ series, What If...?.
The Watchers are one of the oldest species in the multiverse and are committed to observing and compiling knowledge on all aspects of the universe. This policy of total non-interference came into existence due to a former, well-meant attempt by the Watchers to bestow advanced knowledge on the Prosilicans, who used the nuclear technology gained to create weapons and destroy themselves. When the Watchers returned to Prosilicus, the survivors blamed them for causing the catastrophe by giving the Prosilicans nuclear technology before they were ready for it. The Watchers then took a vow never to interfere with other civilizations.
Despite this, the Watcher Uatu has revealed himself to the superhero team the Fantastic Four, telling them of his race. In his first appearance, he made them battle the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes for control of the Moon. He complimented Reed Richards and claimed he would go to a more distant part of the galaxy to observe humanity. He aids them on several occasions against global threats such as the Molecule Man, Galactus, and the Overmind. The Leader discovered his existence and tracked him to his world. He transported the Hulk there to get the Ultimate Machine, which contains all the information in the Universe. The Hulk battled the Amphibious Qnax, who had also been sent to recover the machine. The Watcher transported them away from his machines to battle, and when the Hulk won, he transported Qnax back to his homeworld. He then took the Hulk back to his base, where the Hulk took the Machine despite the Watcher's warnings. The Leader transported him back to Earth and tried to use the device. However, the tremendous amount of knowledge proved too much for the Leader. He collapsed to the ground, unmoving, and the Hulk assumed that he died of shock. When the Hulk tried to use the machine himself, Uatu allowed him to hear the voice of Rick Jones, after which the Hulk removed the device. The Watcher then transported the Ultimate Machine back to his planet. After blatant interference with the mission of the Kree soldier Mar-Vell, Uatu is put on trial by his own race, but is released on the provision that he never directly interfere again.
Uatu is later banished by his race for aiding the Fantastic Four against the threat of his rogue nephew, Aron, the Renegade Watcher, who tries to destroy the universe. The Dreaming Celestial later scans Uatu and learns the Watcher has broken his pact of non-interference almost 400 times. The Celestial also reveals the Watchers, like the Celestials themselves, are servants of a concept called Fulcrum, with apparent consequences for interference. Despite this, the other Watchers have interfered in other civilizations' events, though rarely, notably when the world-ending robot Omegex approached the Milky Way and they deemed it dangerous enough to act directly against it.
There is also a tongue-in-cheek, splintered-off faction of Watchers that call themselves The Critics, who not only observe events, but also give dramatic critique as they take place. The only known Critic looks similar to other Watchers, but wears a mustache, goatee, dark sunglasses, and, rather than toga, dresses in a tweed sport coat.
When Nova briefly visits Uatu and witnesses him watching various alternate realities, he learns that Uatu's father was the Watcher who originally gave nuclear technology to the Prosilicans, with Uatu's search of parallel universes being motivated by the desire to find the one world where his father's act of charity was proved to be the right thing to do. Three of Uatu's brothers and sisters broke their non-interference vow by judging Nick Fury and fusing what's left of Uatu with Nick Fury making him a Human/Watcher hybrid that they chained to a rock.
When the Unseen summons Blink to him and tells her of things going on in the greater Multiverse, terrible creatures that are destroying time, space and dimension, and tells her that she is chosen by the device to act as protector of the very fabric of the Multiverse. This interference in the timestream causes a faction of Watchers to assault him with the objective of ending his involvement even if it means the end of the Multiverse.
The First Race
In the aftermath of the "Empyre" storyline, when the once pacifist plant-like aliens known as the Cotati were defeated after waging a war against Earth, the Kree and Skrulls, the Unseen uses his powers to inspect the weapons used by the Cotati, to find out that its from ancient technology that predates the Elders of the Universe, the Asgardians and even the Celestials. Once he realizes that its from the First Race, the Unseen is overwhelmed with energy as a one-eyed Uatu is brought back to life. When the Unseen demands him to say something, all Uatu can say is "There shall be...a reckoning."
After using the Cyclopedia Universum to see everything that had happened during his absence including how Nick Fury became the Unseen, Uatu released Fury from his punishment and told him that the mysterious weapons used by the Cotati were indeed created by the ancient "First Race". Uatu also declares a war was now coming.
Powers and abilities
The Watchers are cosmic beings, who possess the innate ability to achieve virtually any effect desired, including augmenting personal attributes, time and space manipulation, molecular manipulation, energy projection, and a range of mental powers. They also have access to highly advanced technology.
- Acba - A Watcher that was present during the universe's potential collapse.
- Aron – A renegade Watcher.
- Critics - A branch of the Watchers that comment on everything they observe.
- Daniel Monterde - a little Watcher from Quezon City, Philippines. He's only existence was only because of the encryption, but Karl The Conqueror took over it.
- Ecce – The Watcher who first came upon the newborn Galactus. Despite realizing the danger of his existence, he chose not to eliminate him in his helpless state thereby contributing to his evolution into the Devourer of Worlds.
- Edda - A Watcher that was present during the universe's potential collapse.
- Egma - A Watcher that was present during the universe's potential collapse where he watched Quasar's fight with Maelstrom and his master Oblivion.
- Eihu - A Watcher who witnessed and affected the outcome of the battle between the Stranger and Overmind.
- Emnu - The leader of the Homeworld High Council who opposed the Prosilicus experiment.
- Engu - A Watcher who was present at the trial of Uatu.
- Eta - A female Watcher that lives on the floating island called Weirdworld.
- He Who Summons - The leader of the Watchers who engaged Exitar the Celestial.
- Ikor - The father of Uatu who proposed the Prosilicus experiment.
- Ing - A Watcher who was present at the trial of Uatu.
- Ocam - A Watcher who witnessed and affected the outcome of the battle between the Stranger and Overmind.
- The One - The repository of the Watchers' collective knowledge and observations throughout the eons. He was later killed by Exitar the Celestial.
- Otmu - A Watcher who operates in a sector of the Shi'ar galaxy.
- Qyre - A Watcher who discovered the recluses.
- Talmadge - A newborn Watcher.
- Ualu - A Watcher who was present when Quasar fought Otmu.
- Uatu – Originally assigned to Earth, Uatu was the first Watcher to break with his people's principles of non-interference by allying himself with the Fantastic Four against Galactus.
- Uilig - A Watcher on Earth-691 who was the survivor of the Hawk God's attack on the Watchers.
- Ulana – A female Watcher and Uatu's lover.
- Uravo – A young female Watcher who was sent to find Uatu when he had abandoned his post on Earth.
- Ute - A Watcher from Earth-374 who told the history of Proctor to the Avengers.
- Watcher of the Calishee – A Watcher who observed the planet Calishee.
- Zoma - A Watcher who was present at the trial of the recluses under She-Hulk.
The Watcher appears as the host of Marvel Comics spoof.
In the alternate reality of Earth X (Earth-9997), the Watchers are slaves of the Celestials. As punishment for their non-interference during the birth of their arch-enemy Galactus, the Celestials force the Watchers to observe the impregnation of newly formed planets with their Celestial eggs, and the eventual birth of the Celestial within, which ultimately destroys that planet.
In the Ultimate Marvel alternate universe limited series Ultimate Origins, the Watchers are depicted as machines that speak through a human host (Sue Storm). They choose Rick Jones as their "herald" to help humans survive an "upcoming crisis".
In other media
- Uatu appears in the 1967 Fantastic Four animated series, voiced by Paul Frees.
- Uatu appeared in "The Incredible Hulk" segment of the animated series The Marvel Super Heroes.
- Uatu made a cameo appearance in the X-Men animated series.
- Uatu appears in the 1994 Fantastic Four animated series, voiced by Alan Oppenheimer.
- The Watchers appear in the Silver Surfer animated series.
- Uatu appears in The Super Hero Squad Show animated series episodes "Tremble at the Might of...MODOK" and "This Al Dente Earth", voiced by Dave Boat.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
The Watchers appear in media set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Three Watchers make a brief appearance in the live-action film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, motion-captured by Walt Linscott. They meet with an informant (portrayed by Stan Lee), who tells the uninterested group about his experiences on Earth before leaving him. Director and screenwriter James Gunn has stated that the scene was created because of the online fan-theory that Lee's cameos throughout the franchise were due to his relation to the Watchers.
- A character billed as The Watcher appears in the Disney+ animated series What If...?, voiced by Jeffrey Wright.
The Watcher is the title of a web series that runs on Marvel's official YouTube page, hosted and written by Lorraine Cink, which features news about Marvel comics, film, television, and toys.
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